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Passenger and The Paper Kites review at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Melbourne

Review by  Kristy Effie

Images by Elizabeth Kent

As the sun sets across upon the lawns of the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, eager fans flock towards the inviting sounds of The Paper Kites in anticipation for an evening graced by the renowned, busker-turned-worldwide-performer, Michael David Rosenberg, a.k.a Passenger.

The gentle buzz of the steadily growing Melbourne crowd is swiftly overcome by the airy, indie-rock sound of Melbourne-bred band, The Paper Kites. Previously likened to their Australian counterparts in The Middle East, The Paper Kites are quick to fill the arena with their infectious, feel-good vibe.

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The band’s ethereal energy – carried and transformed between each of their tracks – is not quarrelled by their humorous breaks between songs. Frontman Sam Bentley jokingly remarks with his hometown, “we are not Passenger but it feels as though we are playing at a Passenger festival… or the carols.”

The content crowd award the band with a great reception to their track “Bloom”, despite the band jokingly requesting, “If you know this song you’re welcome to sing it, if you don’t, please don’t sing you’ll ruin it.”

Amidst laughs, there’s no doubts as to why the band were chosen to accompany Passenger across his Australian tours – with their gorgeous instrumental accompaniments building upon their Sunday-morning road trip feel – their chilled approach to the evening prepares the crowd well for the main act.

A variety of mature and young fans ready themselves as a bright hum and shroud of mist sees Mike – Passenger – emerge gently onto the stage alongside his band. Passenger, a busker who previously travelled the world in aspiring towards his musical passions humbly introduces himself to the crowd of 4,000, “What a pleasure – a dream come true – it is to play here.”

He invests absolute trust in his fans, admitting in jest, “I only have one famous song and it isn’t ‘Let It Go’ – that movie ruined my life.” The crowd laughs in good spirit, yet quickly prove Passenger wrong as they eagerly sing along to a plethora of his songs.

Passenger’s ability to turn a crowd is unparalleled. Amongst many who were seemingly adamant to sit upon their seats/picnic rugs throughout the whole gig, it is not so surprising how promptly Mike is able to get absolutely everybody to their feet – drawing the crowd closer to the stage with each song.

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He speaks with the fans as though all 4,000 of us were his close friends, sharing touching stories behind the inspirations of his songs as though we were sharing conservation and a cigarette with the man himself. Everyone is screaming for “27”. In contrary, his especially haunting rendition of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Sound of Silence” leaves everybody hushed – a truly special moment.

You cannot overlook his contagious passion for music, the crowd feeling it as they sing devotedly to will Passenger back onto the stage where he farewells the excited Melbourne crowd with an encore of “Homes” and “Holes”.

Mike will wave you off but you’ll feel the love and joy long after the gig is done. I’d highly recommend taking along your loved ones to your next Passenger concert, I promise you it’ll make you feel like marrying them.


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